Updated: Aug 12, 2022
Everyone has a different story on how they got to the point in their career that they are at now. The path I took to my current job involves a lot of hard work but also timing and luck.
From a young age I always wanted to be a marine biologist. Growing up I was a competitive swimmer. Hawaii was also a big part of my life as a kid. Both combined led me to fall in love with the ocean from a very young age. There was a time during middle school where I decided I hated swimming and therefore everything else involving water. I quickly shifted my goals towards becoming a Broadway star. Thank god I got over that phase.
When I officially decided I wanted to study marine biology I didn’t have a great idea of what school made the most sense for me. I started by looking at every college that offered marine related studies located in a warm climate. As a Florida girl I wasn’t about to pretend like anywhere that reached below 70 degrees was going to work for me. I narrowed it down to a few schools and ultimately made my decision to attend the University of Tampa.
I liked UT because of the smaller class sizes, potential to get out and work in the field, and ability to get involved in independent research early on. It was here that I decided to focus on sharks. I was inspired by a professors work who eventually became my research mentor while studying hammerheads.
Click here for a step by step guide to picking a college for the marine sciences.
Once at school I began focusing on building my resume and gaining experience in the marine science world. Besides being involved in independent research associated with my university, I started volunteering at the Florida Aquarium.
My work at the aquarium, while fun, wasn’t something I ended up being very passionate about. Although I eventually ended my time at the aquarium, it helped me realize that I didn’t want to eventually end up working in the aquarium side of marine science. That’s where my time working with sharks in Hawaii began.
Read about my opinion on sharks in captivity here.
Interning out in Hawaii opened the door to something I felt really passionate about. After working in the lab and in an aquarium the ability to be in the water every day, working with the animals I loved, was a dream come true. I decided that I was going to be the best intern they ever had and work my butt off to make a good impression. Towards the end of my time interning I decided I wanted to stay involved while going back to school. I ended up taking over the intern program and continued to run it from afar before coming back to the island.
SHARK SAFETY DIVING
Ultimately, being able to land the job as a safety diver came down to timing. Right as I was about to graduate, a job opened up in Haleiwa. However, the hard work I put in beforehand and while training allowed me to take advantage of that luck.
PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY
After working as a safety diver for years I wanted to have more freedom with my schedule to travel and advance my skills behind the camera. I worked with a local company to create a job photographing for their company so I could financially support myself while also pursuing independent projects of my own.
I consider myself extremely lucky to be in the position I am today. No matter what it is you want to pursue, luck might be on your side, but make sure you are in a position where you have also put in the work to make that dream possible.
photo credit: @mmkowck